Sunday, February 28, 2010

Distro Hoppin`: Igelle 1.0.0

Hey, people! Welcome to a brand new installment of the Distro Hoppin` series! I bet you've been waiting for this a long time! Actually I KNOW you've been waiting for this a long time. Not because you were anxiously craving for my writing or anything, but because it's been a friggin` long time since the last hop. Be ashamed of yourself, Danny. Promising to write a post more often than once in a blue moon and going ahead to extend that period to once in an ice age... Tsk, tsk, tsk. OK, insert puppy eyes here and let's move on. I DON'T NEED YOUR FORGIVENESS!

So, what I've got here is a Linux distribution that is based on... Erm... Eh, let me check... just a minute... Erm. It's based on NOTHING! Yes, peeps, you've heard me! Igelle stands proud on its own two feet (or whatever many feet a Linux distro should have) and presents itself as "the world's most flexible operatings system". It comes not only as the desktop version I'm looking at today, but also as an OS for Mobile Devices, Servers and Embedded Systems.

The project's website is pretty darn good organized and offers plenty of information as well as comprehensive documentation and community forums. The logo has a cartoonish feel to it, but looks very nice in its lively orange coat. I'm not sure where the name Igelle comes from, but hey, it's a name.

Having recently reached the venerable 1.0.0 version, what better time to take it for a spin? Igelle is only available as a 32-bit Live CD so there wasn't much to linger upon when I clicked the download button. As the system was fresh out of the distro oven, it took me quite a few retries to get through to their servers and grab the thing by one leg and hold on for dear life! Why wasn't there a torrent available? It's so easy and so much faster once a few seeds get it. Oh well, maybe next time! The whole ISO is less than 600 MBs, in case you were wondering.

My arsenist optical unit gladly accepted my burn command and I was soon restarting the computer with Igelle inside. Unfortunately, Igelle and my machine had a quick fight while loading and decided to not talk to eachother anymore. All I was left with was Igelle's cursor. The desktop would not show at all. Despair!

As I really wanted to see what this system was all about, I pried open my System Tools in Ubuntu and clicked on Sun VirtualBox, which was having some spider web problems due to the ignorance I have shown to it lately. Created a new machine, gave it 1024 MBs of RAM and on I went. This time, Igelle loaded flawlessly in a really short amount of time. Obviously, the experience is not anywhere near the same as running it on a real PC, so I won't comment more on speed, responsiveness, etc.

The Live environment behaved great, but I wanted to see how the installer works so I double clicked the "Install Igelle" icon on the Desktop. As the VBOX HDD was empty, installing was fully automatic and it was complete in 1 (ONE) MINUTE. Obviously, the CD read speed was a non-issue in this virtual scenario, so that must have helped. But still! ONE MINUTE. The first boot brought me to a config screen for setting up the user, timezone and all that jazz. Once again, I had to restart and so I did.

Half a minute passed and I was automatically logged in with the previously created user. The Esther desktop (that's what the DE is called) looks really really nice, starting with the wood-like wallpaper and ending with the original layout. There are quite a few icons already present on the desktop, but they are certainly not useless: My Documents, Add and Remove Applications, All Applications, Help and Documentation, Support Forums, Internet Browser and Visit the Igelle Website. On the top, a transparent panel hosts the Igelle main menu, a quick window switcher, the menus for the active window (like we see in Apple's Mac OS), and your regular tray icons: network manager, volume control, time/date)

The bottom part of the screen looks empty at first sight, but moving the pointer in that area will reveal an animated dock with some more program launchers. Sadly, the icons are kind of low-res, so as you hover the mouse over them, the zoom effect that was applied makes them look pixelated.

All the menus benefit from really nice animations and transparencies, all without any video drivers installed, which reminds me a bit of Enlightenment. You can rectangle-select multiple icons, you can create new folders, all the basic functionalities are there also.

Moving right along, we'll talk a bit about the default application suite that comes with Igelle. And number one on this list has to be the web browser, cause besides air, water and food, geeks need the Internet to survive. Actually, I'm not so sure about those first three... Anyway folks, let me tell you that Igelle comes with a browser that looks very much like Epiphany, the Webkit version, except it's not branded in any way. It's called Web Browser. Yep, just like naming your dog, Dog. But that's totally unimportant. Webpages load fast, there is tab support, zooming features, all the goodies. On the downside, some fonts look reaaaally tiny and/or horribly rendered (though this could be related to the low, 1024x768 resolution of the virtual machine hmm).

For a work or home office environment, there isn't much available by default: Osmo, the personal organizer, a text editor in the form of Gedit, a calculator and that's about it.

Fortunately, Igelle also has its own little repository. And when I say little, I mean little; just a few seconds of scrolling and you're at the bottom of the list. Happily, some of the most popular programs are there: Wine, Transmission, OpenOffice, Pidgin, PiTiVi video editor or Firefox.

As for multimedia handling, Igelle, in its untouched, default form, sucks. Copyright issues prevented the developers to enable playback of certain formats out of the box. But the Application Manager hosted the Gstreamer extra plugins pack which promised to save me from boringness (boredom sounds too correct and I feel a bit rebelish tonight! ARRRR). But it didn't. Or so I thought! Because it did! Confused yet? Ok, installing the package alone does nothing to help the poor media player recognize those damned formats, as there is a little extra step to be done, which I missed the first time, because I haven't read the whole description of the package in which that extra step was explained. It's not hard, it's one simple command that you have to type in the terminal and BAM!, you can enjoy your movies.

As I am not much of a cinematography consumer, most of my favorite movies usually end in about 10 minutes and are hosted on a little site called YouTube, not sure if you've heard of it. What these movies run on though is something that is not included in the Gstreamer extra plugins pack. Yep, it's Adobe's Flash platform. And does Igelle come with Flash support? NO! Oh. And is there a quick way to get Flash through its Application Manager? NO! Well, it's time to get the good clothes out of the closet cause we're heading to the Forums, people. The Forum is not a big place, with only a few threads open and getting to the discussion about proprietary stuff is quick. And so I found out how to install my beloved Flash (actually I hate it, but as long as YouTube runs on it, I kinda have to love it). Again, two simple commands that you can copy and paste from the forum and you're done.

There is also some documentation on how to create packages for Igelle, but I think I'm going to skip that for now.

Well, well, well, Igelle.  I just have a feeling this project will develop into something nice as time goes by. It's kinda crude in its current form, but hey, it's built from scratch. If you do try out Igelle, don't be too harsh, remember that creating something out of almost nothing is not that easy. Hopefully the next version will work on my real machine and I will be able to provide more accurate feedback. Still, Igelle was quite fun to explore. It felt like I have discovered a new island after months of hopeless wandering... Thanks for reading and I wish you have the most awesome day ever in your entire life ever. EVER. Happy hoppin`!

Download linky!


  1. I love this distro, in fact I was willing to write something about it.

  2. I couldn't make a NVIDIA card work, but booting "igelle failsafe" did work, and I could install the NVIDIA driver from the NVIDIA website. You might try that for a "non-virtual" install. I agree it is an interesting distro - more suitable for a netbook, perhaps than a desktop machine. The pseudo-mac interface is neat. Caio. - Bruce F.

  3. Great review, Danny! I figured to run Igelle on a Desktop-PC Intel Celeron 2GHz and it looks great! Feels great and fast too! What a gem this distro is :)

  4. Hi.
    I did also installed Igelle in a vbox's vm machine, under a windows vista host. Guess what, you're spoiling the distro with those redundant huge amounts of ram. Try, as I did, to work within the 256 MB vbox's defaulted alocated ram to a2 generic linux 2.6, and you'll be fine. ("1024 MBs of RAM"? ... well ... this isn't a Mo Wndows, this is a Linux without blender ... :)


  5. Whaat ? A Linux distribution with a Microsoft's style EULA ?

  6. I tried it and liked it...but in my dual boot situation, it didn't include XP in the Grub Menu... so for now, I'm back to Mint 8.

  7. not hard to edit /boot/grub/menu.lst to add ur windows partition..thats just a minor issue

  8. Kind'a funny! I was expecting a review of the promissing new distro in the parade, thanks for it. Not for me, I step in the to-be-release Frugalware 1.2, easy and with honest repositories.

  9. Did they copy Mandriva's IaOra theme?


    Igelle may be breaking the GPL and if not they are treading close.

  11. This is what dnndrw577 commented, which I agree on.

    "Try and be reasonable. How can you see Igelle doing something nasty or "depriving" the community of something by releasing the results of their hard work and giving them away for free for everyone to use and enjoy? It is unfortunate how "greedy" some of us can get in assuming or *demanding* for all code written to be available under specific licenses. The GPL sources for packages included in Igelle are well posted and downloadable under Other than that, is it not OK for everyone to choose their preferred license for their own work? ... And would you really want to kill Igelle, through legal means? Has Igelle really been that evil to you? If you don't like it, don't use it. But please, is it really necessary to go up in arms against a group of people who seem to be trying to do some cool new things on Linux?"

  12. Thanks for the review. I'll be testing Igelle in a few minutes. :)

  13. Igelle worked well on my old desktop. I hope the developers would continue to invest in this project. Since most small gadgets now involves the internet and so, the operating system, I think Igelle has a potential to be a leader based on their vision.

  14. Tried Igelle but there's no community or forum to teach me how to get apps from the repositories and install from the terminal (e.g. apt-get,yum,etc.). The distro is still young but seems promising.